Kaliningrad Oblast Explained

Englishname:Kaliningrad Oblast
Russianname:Калининградская область
Locatormaplegend:Location of Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia
Coatofarmslink:Coat of arms of Kaliningrad Oblast
Flaglink:Flag of Kaliningrad Oblast
Admctrorcapital:Administrative center
Foundationdate:April 7, 1946
Politicalstatuslink:Oblasts of Russia
Headname:Georgy Boos
Legislature:Oblast Duma
Constitutionname:Charter of Kaliningrad Oblast

Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian: Калинингра́дская о́бласть, Kaliningradskaya oblast; informally called Yantarny kray (Russian: Янта́рный край, meaning amber region) is a federal subject (an oblast) of Russia on the Baltic coast.

Kaliningrad Oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union it has been an exclave of the Russian Federation surrounded by Lithuania and Poland. Borderless travel to the main part of Russia is only possible by sea or air. This political isolation became more pronounced when Lithuania and Poland both became members of the European Union and NATO, and entered the Schengen Zone, which means that the oblast is surrounded by the territories of these organizations as well.

Its largest city and the administrative center is Kaliningrad (formerly known as Königsberg), which has historical significance as both a major city of the historical state of Prussia and the capital of the former German province of East Prussia, partitioned after World War II between the USSR and Poland, and renamed after Mikhail Kalinin. Population: 968,200 (2004 est.); ; .

The territory of the Kaliningrad Oblast equals the northern part of historical East Prussia (a part of Germany until 1945) which was attributed to the Russian SFSR by the Potsdam Conference, excluding the Memelland which was attached to the Lithuanian SSR inside the Soviet Union.


Kaliningrad Oblast is an exclave of Russia surrounded by Lithuania, Poland and the Baltic Sea.

Geographical features include:

The Kaliningrad Oblast covers the northern part of the area of former East Prussia, which was an exclave of the Weimar Republic, see territorial changes of Germany in the Interbellum.


The current governor (since 2005) of Kaliningrad Oblast is Georgy Boos, who succeeded Vladimir Yegorov.

The EU and Russia have had serious political debate over Kaliningrad. The enlargement of the EU in 2004 which saw Poland and Lithuania become member states meant that Kaliningrad now has land borders only with the EU. Issues of security have been at the forefront of debate, with high relevance to the Schengen Agreement.


East Prussia

See main article: East Prussia. The region of Kaliningrad Oblast was inhabited during the Middle Ages by tribes of Old Prussians in the western part and Lithuanians in the eastern part by the Pregolya and Alna rivers. The Teutonic Knights conquered the region and established a monastic state. On the foundations of a destroyed Prussian settlement known as Tvanksta, the Order founded the major city Königsberg, the current Kaliningrad. Germans and Poles resettled the territory and assimilated the indigenous Old Prussians. The Lithuanian-inhabited areas became known as Lithuania Minor. In 1525, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg secularised the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order and established himself as the sovereign of the Duchy of Prussia, the Polish fief, later inherited by the Margravate of Brandenburg. The region was reorganized into the Province of East Prussia within the Kingdom of Prussia in 1773.

East Prussia was an important centre of German culture. Many important figures, such as Immanuel Kant and E. T. A. Hoffmann, originated from this region. The cities of Kaliningrad Oblast, despite being heavily damaged during World War II and after, still bear typical German architecture, such as Jugendstil, showing the rich German history and cultural importance of the area. The Lithuanian-speaking community in East Prussia diminished due to organical Germanization and assimilation; in the early 20th century Lithuanians made up a majority only in rural parts of the far northeast of East Prussia (Memelland and Minor Lithuania), the rest of the area being overwhelmingly German-speaking.

The Memel Territory (Klaipėda region), formerly part of northeastern East Prussia, was annexed by Lithuania in 1923 after the First World War. After coming to power in 1933, the Nazi regime in Germany radically altered about a third of the place names (the ones not of German origin) of this area by artificially replacing most names of Old Prussian or Lithuanian origin into newly invented German names in 1938.

Kaliningrad Oblast

During World War II the Soviet Red Army entered the eastern-most tip of East Prussia on August 29, 1944 near Goldap and Nemmersdorf. Evidence of massacres committed by the Soviet troops in the East Prussian village of Nemmersdorf spread panic in the province and urged a mass flight westward. However, in spite of this, the Nazis kept East Prussia's civil population firmly at home by threat of a death-penalty for 'cowardly deserting'. As evacuation was only allowed at the very last moment, many were unable to escape - overrun by Soviet units or caught at home. They were killed by the Soviet army, as well as by the severe frost.

More than two million people were evacuated, many of them via the Baltic Sea. The remaining population was deported after the war ended and the area was repopulated primarily by Russians and, to a lesser extent, by Ukrainians and Belarusians (see "Demographics", below).

The Potsdam Agreement of world powers assigned northern East Prussia to the Soviet Union pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement:

The Conference examined a proposal by the Soviet Government that pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement the section of the western frontier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which is adjacent to the Baltic Sea should pass from a point on the eastern shore of the Bay of Gdansk to the east, north of Braunsberg and Goldap, to the meeting point of the frontiers of Lithuania, the Polish Republic and East Prussia.

The Conference has agreed in principle to the proposal of the Soviet Government concerning the ultimate transfer to the Soviet Union of the city of Koenigsberg and the area adjacent to it as described above, subject to expert examination of the actual frontier.

The President of the United States and the British Prime Minister have declared that they will support the proposal of the Conference at the forthcoming peace settlement. http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1945/450802a.html

In 1957, an agreement was signed and later came into force which delimited the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union. (Full text: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/PDFFILES/TREATIES/RUS-POL1957SF.PDF, for other issues of the frontier delimitation see http://www.un.org/Depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/STATEFILES/POL.htm)

According to some accounts from the times of Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964), the Soviet government had planned to make the rest of the area a part of the Lithuanian SSR immediately after World War II. The area was administered by the planning committee of the LSSR, although the area had its own Party committee. However, the leadership of the Lithuanian SSR (especially Antanas Sniečkus) refused to take the territory mainly because of its devastation during the war. Some modern nationalistic Lithuanian authors say that the reason for the refusal was the Lithuanians' concern to find themselves on equal demographic terms with the Russian population within the Lithuanian SSR. Instead the region was added as an exclave to the Russian SFSR and since 1946 it has been known as Kaliningrad Oblast. According to some historians, Joseph Stalin created it as an oblast separate from the LSSR because it further enclosed the Baltic republics from the West.http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0521852544&id=0eYhHoIPEm4C&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&sig=_ooFwAGNAvZ1D1V4MkZL0EC6Ekc Names of the towns, cities, rivers and other geographical objects were changed into newly-created Russian ones.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of the Baltic states caused Kaliningrad Oblast to be separated from the rest of Russia by other countries instead of other Soviet republics. Some ethnic Germans began to migrate to the area, especially Volga Germans from other parts of Russia and Kazakhstan, especially after Germany stopped granting free right of return to ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union. The economic situation has been badly affected by the geographic isolation (and the large reduction in the size of the Russian military garrison which was previously one of the major employers), especially when neighbouring nations imposed strict border controls when they joined the European Union. Russian proposals for visa-free travel between the EU and Kaliningrad have so far been rejected by the EU.

In recent times, the situation started to change, but very slowly. Germany and Lithuania have renewed contact with Kaliningrad Oblast through town twinning and other projects. This has helped to promote interest in the history and the culture of the East Prussian and Lietuvininkai communities.


Kaliningrad Oblast is the most militarized area of the Russian Federation and the density of military installations is the highest in Europe. Kaliningrad is a headquarters of Russian Baltic Fleet circled by Chernyakhovsk (air base), Donskoye (air base), Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base).

The Washington Times claimed on January 3 2001, citing anonymous intelligence reports, that Russia had transferred tactical nuclear weapons into a military base in Kaliningrad for the first time since the Cold War ended. Russian top-level military leaders denied those claims[1] . A Pentagon spokesperson stated that deployment would violate Russian pledge that Russia was removing nuclear weapons from the Baltics. Russia and the United States announced in 1991 and 1992 a non-binding agreement to reduce arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons. On the eve of the reunification of Germany, Helmut Kohl promised Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO's military infrastructures would not move eastward into the territory of East Germany, a fact since confirmed by the former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock. Later Russia was privately assured that Eastern European states would not seek membership in NATO[2] . Today, while NATO has not established any military infrastructure in Eastern Germany yet, both Central European and Baltic countries are NATO members.

On Nov. 5, 2008, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev said Russia would deploy Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region as a response to U.S. plans for basing Missile defense missiles in Poland.[3] Equipment to electronically hamper the operation of future U.S. missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic also would be deployed, he said.

However, on January 28th, 2009, a Russian defense official stated that the deployment of short-range missiles into Kaliningrad Oblast would cease due to perceived changes in the attitude of the United States government towards the Russian Federation following the election of United States President Barack Obama.[4]

Time zone

Kaliningrad Oblast is located in the Eastern European Time Zone (known locally as the Kaliningrad Time Zone or the Russia Zone 1). UTC offset is +0200 (USZ1)/+0300 (USZ1S).

Administrative divisions

See main article: Administrative divisions of Kaliningrad Oblast and List of settlements in Kaliningrad Oblast.



According to the 2002 Census the population of the region was 955,281 (78% urban; 22% rural). Kaliningrad Oblast is the fourth most densely populated in the Russian Federation, with 62.5 persons per sq.km. Almost none of the pre-World War II Lithuanian population (Lietuvininks) or German population remain in Kaliningrad Oblast.

Ethnic groups

According to the 2002 Census the 'national composition' included:

as well as other groups of less than three hundred persons each. An additional 0.93% of residents declined to state their nationality or ethnocultural identity on the census questionnaire.[5]


According to official statistics, the Gross Regional Product of the Kaliningrad Oblast was 115 billion roubles[6]


The region has transport (railcars) and heavy equipment (crane) plants. Car and truck assembly (GM, BMW, KIA, YUEJIN) and production of auto parts are growing industries. There are shipbuilding facilities in Kaliningrad and Sovetsk. Food processing is a mature industry in the region.

Natural Resources

Kaliningrad Oblast possesses more than 90% of the world's amber deposits[7] . Most of the mined amber is processed outside of the region, both in Russia and in other countries.

There are small oil reservoirs beneath the Baltic Sea not far from Kaliningrad's shore. Small-scale offshore exploration started in 2004 and some Baltic countries (Poland and Lithuania), as well as local NGOs voiced concerns regarding possible environmental impact.


Fishing is one of the important regional industries, with big fishing ports in Kaliningrad and Pionerskoe and lesser ones in Svetly and Rybachy.

Power generation

Average yearly power consumption in the Kaliningrad Oblast was 3.5 bln kWh in 2004 with local power generation providing just 235 mln. kWh. The balance of energy needs required was imported from neighbouring countries. A new Kaliningrad power station was built in 2005, covering 50% of the Oblast's energy needs. A second power station is scheduled to enter service in 2010, making the Oblast independent from electricity imports. There are plans to build two nuclear power reactors in the eastern part of Kaliningrad.


History section:

  1. Simon Grunau, Preußische Chronik. Hrsg. von M. Perlbach etc., Leipzig, 1875.
  2. A. Bezzenberger, Geographie von Preußen, Gotha, 1959

External links

Notes and References

  1. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=WT&p_theme=wt&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_text_search-0=Russia%20AND%20Transfers%20AND%20Nuclear%20AND%20Arms%20AND%20to%20AND%20Baltics&s_dispstring=Russia%20Transfers%20Nuclear%20Arms%20to%20Baltics%20AND%20date(01/01/2001%20to%2001/01/2002)&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date:B,E&p_text_date-0=01/01/2001%20to%2001/01/2002)&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no Bill Gertz, "Russia Transfers Nuclear Arms to Baltics," Washington Times, 3 January 2001, p. 1.
  2. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Don't+isolate+us:+a+Russian+view+of+NATO+expansion.-a019326117 Don't isolate us: a Russian view of NATO expansion
  3. News: Russia to move missiles to Baltic. y. bbc.co.uk. BBC. Wednesday, 5 November 2008. 12 November 2008.
  4. News: Russia 'halts missile deployment'. y. bbc.co.uk. BBC. Wednesday, January 28 2009. 28 January 2009.
  5. National Composition of Population for Regions of the Russian Federation. 2006-07-20. XLS. 2002 Russian All-Population Census. 2002.
  6. http://www.gov.kaliningrad.ru/zip/itogsocecrazn2006.zip Regional administration's website (Russian)
  7. http://science.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/amber How Products Are Made: Amber